FAA Flight Path Changes Will Impact Different Phoenix Neighborhoods

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 5:00am
Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018 - 7:38am
Al Macias/KJZZ
A plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

As some historic neighborhoods in Phoenix prepare to welcome quieter skies thanks to a deal between the city and Federal Aviation Administration, other neighborhoods could soon experience more noise.

A federal court ruled the FAA violated laws three years ago when it changed flight paths without adequate community outreach. The changes sparked major noise complaints from several historic neighborhoods. Now, the FAA is changing course and other residents will be affected.

“As the flight paths go back to almost exactly the way that they were before, there are neighborhoods to the west that are going to be impacted again,” Assistant Aviation Director Deborah Ostreicher said before a recent council subcommittee. “There are also some serious concerns in the north valley.”

The FAA will hold three public workshops, but Brent Kleinman with the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic Preservation Association said he is disappointed none of the meetings locations is in the neighborhoods that have been fighting to change the paths.

“The residents are now at a point where they see the finish line,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re helping push in the right direction to get to the results that we want to get to.”

Ostreicher said the FAA is responsible for the public workshops but the Aviation Department will request they hold a meeting in the historic neighborhoods.

FAA Airspace Workshops
Feb. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Maryvale High School Cafeteria
3415 N. 59th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85033

Feb. 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Cesar Chavez High School Cafeteria
3921 W. Baseline Road, Laveen Village, AZ 85339

Feb. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Horizon High School Cafeteria
5601 E. Greenway Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85254

There will be information about the proposed changes and representatives on hand to answer questions.
The proposed plan has two steps:
1. The FAA will revert to flight paths used pre-September 2014 “to the extent practicable”.
2. The FAA may propose other procedures based on public feedback regarding other routes near the airport.

In September 2014, the FAA changed flight paths as part a national program aimed at improving safety and efficiency. Phoenix and a coalition of neighborhood groups sued.

The city alleged the FAA never alerted Aviation Department authorities about the changes, but the FAA said it communicated with Department staff two years before the changes took effect. The city argued  and the court agreed — the FAA only spoke with "low level" staffers and did not conduct adequate community outreach. In 2015, Phoenix disciplined four employees who had knowledge of the flight path changes, but did not communicate with city leadership.

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